Mary Oliver

How I Go To The Woods

Ordinarily I go to the woods alone, with not a single

friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore

unsuitable.

I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds

or hugging the old black oak tree. I have my way of

praying, as you no doubt have yours.

Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible. I can sit

on top of the dune as motionless as an uproar of weeds,

until the foxes run by unconcerned. I can hear the almost

unbearable sound of the roses singing.

*

If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love you very much.

-Mary Oliver

Thank you for allowing us to walk in the woods with you. RIP.

Life Taken for Granted

Moving back into my little house in my little city, I was reminded of a story my mom told my sister and I when we were children about Nasruddin, the wise fool found in much Eastern folklore and especially popular in Sufism.

One day a neighbor approached Nasruddin, lamenting the fact that his house was too small for his large family and asking Mulla Nasruddin for his advice.

“Yes,” replied Nasruddin, “do you have any chickens?”

“Yes,” said the man.

“Bring them all into the house,” Nasruddin told the man. “And if you have any geese or ducks, bring them in too.”

“But, it’s already so crowded, I don’t understand how this will help.”

“You asked for my advice. This is it.”

The man went home and brought his 10 chickens into the house. The next day he returned to Nasruddin.

“It’s awful,” he said. “They’re dirty and loud and it’s more crowded than before.”

“Good,” Nasruddin replied. “Now, do you have a donkey? A horse?”

“We have a donkey,” the man said.

“Wonderful, bring him into the house as well.”

“But…ok” the man replied.

The man returned the next day, looking more exhausted than before.

“It’s worse,” he said. “Between my wife and kids and in-laws and the donkey and chickens, it’s just much, much worse.”

“Wonderful,” Nasruddin replied. “Do you have any goats? Pigs? Dogs? Cats?”

“Yes, we have all of these animals.”

“Terrific. Please bring them all into your house.”

“But, I don’t see how this… ok.”

The next day the man returned, looking worse than ever.

“I haven’t been able to sleep” he told Nasruddin. “And now my family is all mad at me for bringing in the animals. Everyone is fighting more than before. The animals are eating all of the food. There’s not enough room for us in our own home.”

“Great,” Nasruddin smiled. “Now go home and put all of the animals back outside.”

Wearily, the man agreed and walked home.

The next morning the man reappeared, smiling.

“Mulla, your plan worked perfectly. Last night we all slept, no one is arguing, and everyone is very content in our little home.”

I’ve always loved this story and think of it often. How easy it is to take our lives for granted until that which makes them up is changed or removed and we are left realizing how good we had it.

Before moving to LA, I never gave my driveway or washing machine a second thought. I was bored with low overhead, believing that my life was too easy and that I wasn’t pushing myself hard enough. So, I traded my home for shared walls, shared laundry, and street parking, increased my overhead by half and made the move.

It was fun, it was new, and it was a change, which is maybe what I needed most of all. And then it was old, the same, and normal. And so life goes. I came to realize how mellow I am and how mellow the life I love is. I cook. I blog. I work. I go to the movies. I visit friends.

The museums and concerts in LA are great, as is the shopping. There is more of everything to choose from. The food is amazing. But, when it came down to it, too much choice actually made me slightly catatonic and I began to crave routine and simplicity over excitement.

Now, back in my funny little desert city, with it’s empty streets, quiet night life, and my own personal driveway, you’d think I’d won the lottery. I’m perfecting my yogurt recipes, riding my bike, and relishing not having to work as much. Sometimes it takes giving something up to realize what you had and to remember that simple can be great.

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Dead Can Dance

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The Guest House-

This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes

as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,

who violently sweep your house

empty of its furniture,

still, treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out

for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.

meet them at the door laughing and

invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.

because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.

-Jellaludin Rumi

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Do not stand at my door and weep,

I am not there, I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow.

I am the diamond glint on snow.

I am the sunlight on ripened grain.

I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you wake in the morning hush,

I am the swift, uplifting rush

Of quiet birds in circling flight.

I am the soft starlight at night.

Do not stand at my grave and weep.

I am not there, I do not sleep.

Do not stand at my grave and cry.

I am not there, I did not die!

-Anon

Feliz Día de los Muertos.

Besos.

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RIP AB

Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But, that’s ok. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.

-Anthony Bourdain

Thank you for packing us in your suitcase, including us in your travels, for your humanity, stories, humor, words, for urging us to choose the adventure, eat the unfamiliar, explore, and for leaving so much good behind. You were my role model, inspiration, and my always crush.

Rest In Peace.

Peace

 

-The Peace of Wild Things-

When despair for the world grows in me

and I wake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children’s

lives may be,

I go and lie down where the wood drake

rests in his beauty on the water, and the

great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with

forethought

of grief. I come into the presence of still

water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

waiting for their light. For a time

I rest in the grace of the world, and am

free.

-Wendell Berry

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Happy Earth Day from Smagik.com!

 

 

Escape to the Desert (X)

As they do, this week went from “great” to “get me out of here” overnight.  And, so, I got out; out of my apartment, city, and head and into the desert and the awesome Desert X art show.  Desert X consists of 14 installation art pieces in the desert between Whitewater, Desert Hot Springs, Palm Springs, all the way east to Coachella.  And, being the Thursday after the Coachella music festival, I avoided both traffic and crowds and had much of the area almost to myself, a small miracle anywhere in Southern California.

I left LA at 9 this morning and headed to the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs to pick up a map of Desert X. Arranged like a scavenger hunt, the maps give you the addresses, intersections or GPS coordinates of each installation but it’s up to you which you want to see and how you do it.  And, since getting in my car with good music, my camera, and the goal of finding something interesting and/or beautiful to look at is basically my favorite thing in the world, this hunt was a dream.

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After leaving the Ace, I headed for the Palm Springs Art Museum and Jeffrey Gibson’s tall piece in the Sculpture Garden. It was underwhelming and I quickly left for Rancho Mirage and Sunnyland. Little did I know that Sunnyland is a famed retreat for Presidents and other important people and is where former President Obama presented the Chinese President with a carved redwood bench in 2013 (I sat on it).

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There, I saw Lita Albuquerque’s (nice last name Burqueños!) piece titled Earth.

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From Sunnyland I headed to Palm Desert and Claudia Comte’s Curves and Zigzags. It hurt my eyes to look at from afar, strobing and giving me a bit of vertigo, but in a good way!

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But, the highlight of the day turned out to be Doug Aitken’s Mirage. Located on a hill in Palm Springs, in a residential subdivision where, judging by the no parking signs, the neighbors didn’t seem happy about the crowds flooding into their neighborhood. Models, hipsters, and fellow Instagramers were just beginning to descend, but I got there fifteen minutes before their 3:30 opening time and was able to avoid some of the masses. It was the coolest. A house made completely out of mirrors, inside and out, reflecting all.

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Sometimes all it takes is a good scavenger art hunt, or day trip, to both get you out of your head and to get your own creative juices flowing once again.

Back in LA now and all is good.

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